Bell County, named for Joshua Fry Bell (1811-1870), was formed just after the Civil War in February of 1867 from portions of Harlan and Knox Counties. Pineville, the county seat, being so near the site where pioneers on the Wilderness Road crossed the Cumberland River, had originally been called Cumberland Ford. Though the town was settled in 1781, it was only officially designated as Pineville upon the county's formation.
In the early days, hunting parties penetrated into eastern Kentucky first through the Cumberland Gap and then on through the "Narrows." As both prominent gaps lie within the county, Bell cradled the critical mountain passage and served as the very gateway to the western movement.
Until the advent of the Wilderness Road, the parallel ridges of Pine and Cumberland Mountains lay upon the land like great stone walls that barred explorers and pioneers from traveling west. The eventual discovery of Kentucky's twin gaps (Cumberland Gap and the Narrows) gave rise to a torrent of immigrants on their way to build a nation.
Pine Mountain became Kentucky's first state park in 1924, Regarded as one of the country's finest natural resorts, the park is noted for it's rugged mountain terrain and scenic beauty.